A practising Mormon called Andrew made the following point on my blog:
"Matt my friend,
Truth is found through prayer, fasting, and study, not through physical evidence.
I know Joseph Smith was a prophet because God Himself told me. He truly did. No amount of physical evidence, however persuasive, could convince me otherwise."
My reply was
"Andrew, my dear old mate, thank you for your comment.
I prayed. Long and hard. I fasted I prayed and I studied for a very long time.
And God told me that Joseph Smith was NOT his prophet. That the LDS church was NOT his church.
This came as something of a surprise, as I was firmly convinced that when I received an answer from God that it would confirm my testimony. But it did not.
Why did Joseph Smith NOT mention the several groups that did live in the Americas? Because he was not a prophet of God. It's that simple.
At times, I wondered if it would have been better to rely on the testimonies of others, not to do as I did to pray for my own, personal answer. Because the answer I got was a hard one. All I had been taught since my parents had converted to Mormonism was,God told me, wrong.
But as I grew older I came to accept the will of God more. If God had wanted me to have continued being a Mormon, he would have left me as one. He saved me."
But eventually, other people start to ask questions. Dr Smith starts to prescribe some really bizarre treatments. The drugs he prescribes are often the wrong drug, or in the wrong dosages.
Or he prescribes two teaspoons of hair shampoo for an internal complaint.
He tells someone that there is nothing wrong with them, and it is found out when he collapses in the street that he has a cancer which, if Doctor Smith had referred him to hospital, would have been curable. But now it is too late.
Eventually the medical authorities step in and, at the outraged instigation of a pharmacist, they conduct an investigation. They discover that Smith had not attended medical college as he should have done, but had been asked to leave for various nefarious practices. He borrowed a genuine Doctor's certificate and has a perfect copy made but in his own name.
When this is discovered, many patients come forward with stories of how he failed to identify a wide variety of medical conditions. They had complained to the authorities but had been ignored as Dr Smith was such a popular doctor with the other doctors in the area.
The physical evidence that Smith was a fake Doctor was merely evidence that he was a fake medical practitioner. Not that his certificate was a fake.
Anyone can want to pretend to be a doctor, or an architect, or a police officer, or a general, or whatever. Only a man like Joseph Smith can desire to pretend to be something (in Smith's case, a prophet of God) and then to continue to put this desire into practice.
What about Frank Abagnale? He used falsehoods and faked papers to pretend to be a number of things. Including a teaching assistant at BYU.
Incidentally the story of the fake doctor who was spotted when he prescribed shampoo as an internal medication? It really did happen in Northern England, several years ago. And the local pharmacist, who had warned the medical authorities for several years about his suspicions that the doctor was a fake was eventually proved right.
Rather like when William Law published the Navoo Expositor in order to expose Joseph Smith as a fake prophet.